Will the terror threat be used to silence the blogosphere?

I was interested to hear about the Home Secretary’s latest wheeze:

Jacqui Smith said she wanted to use technology to stop “vulnerable people” being “groomed for violent extremism”.

“Because something is difficult, that is no reason not to have a go at it,” she added. “The internet can’t be a no-go area for government.”

Ms Smith is to discuss the plans with members of the communications industry.

She will meet internet service providers and members of the Muslim community to discuss measures to block websites which promote terrorism.

The home secretary said it would be possible to “learn lessons” about removing offensive material which was placed online.

What lessons?

New Labour has always been about “knowledge management” or spin, as most people would call it (bullshitting, to be plain).

The blogosphere, which exists immaterially through the medium of “the internets” – a series of tubes, I believe – is harder to manipulate as it is written by citizen journalists rather than the professional journalists of state-corporate media outlets. Bloggers little or no institutional filters – their biases are their own, if you will.

Remember what Bliar’s propaganda minister, Alistair Campbell (the originator of the false “45 minutes” claim used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq) had to say of blogs?

According to him, they were

“perceived as a positive development” but added that “some of the most offensive stuff” comes from them.

That comes from an article about a speech given by the director of the Press Complaints Commission calling for a voluntary code of conduct for the internet…

Now, the reaction to these statements from bloggers were on the whole negative. Perhaps because it was realised that “members of the communications industry” would be the volunteers, not the bloggers themselves and it would be a form of corporate rather than government censorship.

Anti-terror legislation has been used to clamp down on peaceful protesters – will the same thing happen to the internet?

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